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Adding Fruits, Vegetables to Diet Could Slow ALS Progression

Nov 02, 2016 04:26 AM EDT
Fruits and Vegetables
Antioxidants and carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables can slow the progression of ALS
(Photo : Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

A new study revealed that adding fruits and vegetables rich with antioxidant nutrients and carotenoids to the daily diet of patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) could slow the progression of the neurological disorder.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Neurology, showed that food and nutrition play a crucial part in the severity and progression of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS is a severe neurological disorder that causes paralysis, atrophy and respiratory failure.

"It appears that nutrition plays a role both in triggering the disease and why it progresses," said Jeri W. Nieves, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, in a statement. "Those responsible for nutritional care of the patient with ALS should consider promoting fruits and vegetables since they are high in antioxidants and carotenes."

For the study, the researchers recruited 302 participants from 16 clinical centers throughout the U.S. Each participant was diagnosed with ALS for 18 months or less. The researchers used food questionnaires to determine the nutrient intake of the participants. Using validate measure of ALS severity and respiratory function, the researchers examined the link between nutritional intake and severity of ALS in each participant.

The researchers discovered that higher intake of antioxidants and carotenoids could lead to better function in patients and slower progression of the disorder. However, the researchers found that milk and lunch meats promote lower measures of function and more severe progression. This suggests that diet may help minimize the severity of ALS and point to the role of oxidative stress in ALS severity.

The researchers noted that their study rely on food questionnaire that may not always represent true diet. However, the researchers are still convinced that giving ALS patients with food rich in antioxidants and carotenoids, as well as high fiber grains, fish and poultry, could promote better function and slower progression of the disorder.

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